Saudis demand 'rapid and decisive response' to tanker attacks, as oil prices rise
Iran says it is being made into a scapegoat for the oil tanker explosions. (AP: Tasnim News Agency)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
- Iran summons the British ambassador, reportedly seeking a “correction” on its stance over the blasts
- Crew members of the Front Altair tanker land in Dubai after two days in Iran
- Oil prices climbed 3.4 per cent in the wake of Thursday’s attacks
He is quoted in an interview with a Saudi-owned newspaper as saying the attack on the tankers, one of them Japanese, was an insult to Japan’s Prime Minister, who was visiting Iran at the time.
The United States has also blamed Iran for the attacks but Tehran has denied any involvement.
In the interview, the Crown Prince also said the kingdom did not want a war in the region but would not hesitate to deal with any threat to its interests.
“The Iranian regime did not respect the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to Tehran and while he was there replied to his efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese,” the newspaper quoted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says his kingdom does not want a war but will defend its interests. (Reuters via Saudi Royal Court)
Thursday’s tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman exacerbated the antagonistic fallout from similar blasts in May that crippled four vessels.
Washington is already embroiled in a standoff with Iran over its nuclear program.
Crew members of the Norwegian-owned Front Altair tanker landed in Dubai on Saturday after two days in Iran.
The mariners’ recollection and the physical evidence remaining on the Front Altair and the other tanker damaged in the attack — the Kokuka Courageous, which is now off the coast of Fujairah — will play an important role in determining who the international community blames for Thursday’s explosions on board the oil tankers.
Iran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the “Tanker War”, which saw the US Navy escort ships through the region — something American officials may consider doing again.
All this comes after four other oil tankers off Fujairah suffered similar attacks in recent weeks, and Iranian-allied rebels from Yemen have struck US ally Saudi Arabia with drones and missiles.
The release of the image and video appeared to show US efforts to convince the international community of Iran’s culpability in Thursday’s attacks. (Supplied: US Central Command)
Britain accused of ‘blindly’ following US
Iran has summoned the British ambassador after London agreed with the US conclusion that Iran attacked the tankers.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported that Iranian diplomat Mahmoud Barimani met with British ambassador Robert Macaire to protest against Britain “blindly and hastily following” the US in accusing Iran.
Iran also reportedly sought a “correction” on Britain’s stance.
The British Foreign Office on Friday said in a statement that it concluded “it is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military” attacked the tankers.
Saudis want ‘rapid and decisive response’
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said “there must be a rapid and decisive response to the threat” to energy supplies, market stability and consumer confidence, the Saudi Energy Ministry tweeted.
“The kingdom is committed to ensuring stability of global oil markets,” the Saudi Energy Minister said in Japan at a meeting of energy ministers from the G20 group of nations.
The US military released a video on Thursday, saying it showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were behind the explosions that damaged the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous.
Oil prices have climbed 3.4 per cent since Thursday’s attacks. Ship insurers said insurance costs for ships sailing through the Middle East had jumped by at least 10 per cent.
The suspected attacks occurred at dawn on Thursday about 40 kilometres off the southern coast of Iran.
The Front Altair, loaded with naphtha from the United Arab Emirates, radioed for help as its cargo of flammable chemicals caught fire.
The Kokuka Courageous, carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, called for help a short time later.
Drone attacks on Saudi airports
Meanwhile, Yemen’s Houthi movement launched fresh drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia’s Jizan and Abha airports, the group’s Al-Masirah TV said on Saturday, adding the installations were out of service.
Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV said Saudi forces had intercepted a ballistic missile targeting the south-western city of Abha.
The Iran-aligned group said multiple drone strikes targeted control rooms at Jizan airport and a fuel station at Abha airport.
“The two airports are now out of service. We promise the Saudi regime with more painful days as long as the aggression and siege continue on our country,” the group’s armed forces spokesman said in a tweet published by Al-Masirah TV’s account.